TM: When did you decide that t-shirts was your thing?
GB: Growing up I was always into T shirts, Hoodies & mainly just casual clothes. I really never envisioned myself in this business until it all started to make sense. I am an entrepreneur and have started numerous companies and ventures and the story about this business goes like this: About 3 ½ years ago a good friend of mine went into the Air Force and was stationed in Northern California. This cat loved his city to death and would take it to blows with anyone who thought Connecticut was a bunch of rich snobs. *Our city was tagged pound for pound the most corrupt city in America by Forbes magazine, Arpil ’08, not to brag. So his birthday was coming up and I went to the mall to grab him a T shirt with Waterbury, CT on it. Long story short – Mall didn’t have it, searched online to no avail so my entrepreneurial mindset kicked in and told me to solve this problem. I went out and bought a heat press and some transfer paper, made him his shirt and then started selling them around the neighborhood and eventually around the entire city. So, I guess I was in the T shirt business!
TM: How long have you been in the t-shirt biz? And what have you learned?
GB: I have been selling T shirts for about 3 years now but would not call it being in the business. I started a site selling my heat pressed custom city shirts about 2 ½ years ago but did not give it much attention. Anyone who visited the site loved it and most ordered shirts, because it was very unique and the first of its kind. And plus, who wouldn’t want to rock a shirt that had their city on it? The highest selling shirts on sites like cafepress are those with people’s hometowns on them. But, who has time to write every city in the world and upload it to the site in hopes that someone from that city will find it. Along the winding path of this venture I have learned that you have to be different. The market is so huge that 10 different sites can make the same shirt and most likely each site will sell their fair share, but the one company that makes the unique fresh shirt has the potential to sell 10x what the competition is selling. Basically, if you want to get in without risk or time; sell what everyone else is selling, it will most likely work! But if you really believe in your idea and concept then go for it and don’t stop until the entire world sees what you see.
TM: Your t-shirts are custom ordered. How’s this been working out for you and what’s the process of production?
GB: That is our business, so we have to make it work! I have been doing this for approx. 3 years now and just recently have I really got my business straight. I was throwing a couple bucks at the site and doing designs myself and heat pressing the shirts up until I decided that I was going to go for it and make this site known throughout the world. Now we use Direct To Garment printing which has just recently came out and works great, the quality a colors are a dream. One of our advantages is that we have tried so many processes and systems and have finally found a process that works – after a lot of money and time!
TM: Which of your shirts is your favorite?
GB: It’s hard to say because I really believe in the concept and the site and I love them all, but you know that Godfather shirt is crucial right now! Man, the people have been eating that one up because no matter where you are from or how you were raised, you know The Godfather and now we give you a chance to be a part of it!
TM: Do your run your label alone or do you have a team?
GB: Up until recently I ran it myself. As I mentioned before, this was when I was not very serious and my business was not right. The concept has always been there and I knew it was a valuable concept but it wasn’t until I took on a partner in the company that we started to get serious and the results are showing. To make a long story short: while I was running the site I would always stay up late, read books and absorb blogs on how to market online. One blog particularly caught my attention and I would read it religiously. The man behind this blog was an entrepreneur like myself, his name was Daniel Taylor and his expertise was on the web and internet marketing, and he was very good at it!
Anyways, I was starting to get overwhelmed with my other business (my “day job”) and I was thinking about selling the site. I figured before I sold it I would reach out to this man that I greatly respected from his blog. I reached out, he saw my vision and we have now turned it into our vision and we compliment each other perfectly. This all happened in late February 2008. I would recommend this to everyone out there, find someone who holds the same values as you and can compliment you greatly in your business because two minds looking from two different angles can see a lot more than one mind at one dimension. With our new partnership we push each other every day and go out and “out hustle” and challenge each other. With two people, one vision, and a drive to succeed; the question turns into when instead of how. Also my team extends to those around me, over the years I have been in business online and off and have met and befriended many people that I still work with today, mainly my extraordinary web developer who I would never have made it here without, Daren at www.cubecartservices.biz
TM: Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to designing t-shirts?
GB: Our inspiration for our designs comes from what people out there are looking for. This stems from what we are looking for and also what the people around us are looking for. Me being from Connecticut and my partner being from Los Angeles, we have very different perspectives on what is “hot” which gives us an advantage over folks that are biased due to geographical location or the things that they are exposed to. When we design our shirts we have everyone in mind – from the cat in New Zealand who is looking to rep his town all the way up to the rapper from Brooklyn who is looking to put his street on the map.
TM: Your website has an intro video; could you tell us a little about your decision to add media to the shopping experience?
GB: Adding the interactive “plasma tv” screen was my partners idea. He is an internet marketing guru and had all of the stats and facts in hand when proposing this video. Our site is very unique and different and we need to get our idea and concept across to the customer as quick as possible before they don’t understand what to do and push the back button on their browser. Using the media also gave our company a face and with our movement that is exactly what we need. We are not some Madison ave type company designing shirts with no cares. We are the people who wear these and represent where we’re from! When I talk to Daniel out in LA, I am intrigued by the way he lives and he is also intrigued by the way we live in Connecticut. We want people from all over the world to come out and share their experiences of their hometowns with us and with the rest of our customers. This is a movement – to expose each others cultures without being censored or having to falsify anything to live up to a standard. If you are a thug out on the streets, let us know; if you are out in Kansas milking cows putting in 16 hour days, we find that just as interesting. We are in the process of making our myspace page a community like this to give our people a platform to represent who they are and where they’re from.
TM: You’re targeting the urban/streetwear scene if I’m not mistaken, and what has been your best marketing vehicle in targeting that audience?
GB: We are targeting people from all walks of life and from all parts of the globe. I would say that our initial target was the street wear and urban scene, but this type of shirt appeals to people from all over. We sell shirts to kids, women, parents, gangsters, college kids, sorority girls, etc. We do not discriminate or focus on one particular group. A way that we found a happy medium was to offer both Gildan high quality shirts and also high quality very thick “Hip Hop” shirts for those that like them a little longer.
TM: What’s in the works for the future of your label?
GB: The future for our label is to just expose our idea and concept to as many people possible through as many ways possible. As I mentioned earlier, our goal is to learn more about every culture and every city on the map. It is interesting to me just to talk to my business partner seeing that his culture is very different than mine. When I talk to customers that are from Baltimore or San Diego or over seas it is fascinating to hear about what it’s like where they are from. I want everyone to experience this and learn as much as possible about other cultures and cities.
TM: What tips could you give to others trying to get into the t-shirt biz?
GB: Stick to your core competencies. Stay true and follow through!
On behalf of me and my partner I would like to thank T-shirtmagazine.com for giving us this opportunity and for all of the readers out there for taking time and letting us expose you to our concept and our movement.
VISIT THE WEBSITE AT: WEARYOURCITY.COM